Why Running Facebook and Instagram Ads is Important for Real Estate Agents
If you don’t know my name, there is a good chance you’d know me as “that real estate guy” if you saw my face. That’s on purpose. Between Million Dollar Listing New York, my YouTube channel, and my massive social media following, I’ve worked to become the most followed brand in real estate.
My reach on social media (over 100,000,000 impressions a month) is not only great for my clients, whose listings are seen by more potential buyers than anyone else’s, but also it’s great for me as a lead generation machine.
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I believe any real estate agent well-versed in the art and science of social media ads can achieve these kinds of results. And, I’m here to help by giving you a primer on how to use Facebook and Instagram ads to SCALE your real estate lead flow without hiring an expensive social media marketing manager.
Social ads are a potent source of lead generation. 77% of real estate agents already use social media in some way, according to the National Association of Realtors. So, let’s learn how you can leverage Facebook and Instagram ads to maximize your leads—starting with a quick explanation of what these are.
What Are Facebook Ads?
Facebook ads are advertisements that appear in a Facebook News Feed and in the right column of Facebook on desktop devices. Most News Feed ads take the format of a typical Facebook post, although with a little “sponsored” label in the upper-left-hand corner of the post. To create a Facebook ad, you need to sign up for a Facebook Ads Manager account and then provide Facebook with an ad budget. Your budget will determine how often your ads are served to Facebook users (i.e. how often they’ll appear in their News Feed). Target audience, ad format, and time of year are some of the factors that impact the cost of Facebook ads.
What Are Instagram Ads?
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Instagram ads are advertisements that appear in users’ timelines or on their Stories. Similar to Facebook (which owns Instagram, by the way), Instagram ads look like typical posts, with the only exception being the “sponsored” label. You’ll also need a Facebook Ads Manager account to create Instagram ads, and the budgeting system is more or less the same.
Why Create Facebook and Instagram Ads?
Now that you know what these ads are, let’s talk about why you, the real estate agent, should be using them.
There’s a Huge Audience
Believe it or not, everyone uses social media! Facebook has over 1.8 billion daily active users, and 500 million people check their Instagram account daily. And most of these people are spending multiple hours everyday posting, scrolling, liking, and sharing. That’s a HUGE captive audience. And, with Facebook and Instagram ad technology, you can identify highly specific subsets of the market based on locality and interests. That beats the heck out of door knocking or cold calling if you ask me.
You Can Build Your Brand
As a real estate agent, you’re your own brand. And Facebook and Instagram real estate ads are your stage. By sharing a mixture of thoughtful, authentic content and engaging sales ad content, you can project yourself as cool, calm, collected—an industry leader, and the type of person that closes deals.
People Engage With Social Content
The best thing about social media is that people can interact with your content. In other words, you get a direct feedback loop into whether your content is resonating with your target audience. If people don’t like what you’re putting out there, they won’t hold back (believe me!). On the flipside, if your content is great, the likes, shares, and comments will come rolling in. And when people engage with your content in a positive way, it’s like having an army of believers, evangelizing the gospel that is your real estate practice to the world!
It’s a Visual Medium
People don’t fall in love with the description of a home—they fall in love with how it looks. 83% of all home buyers say they want to see pictures of properties online. And Instagram and Facebook lend themselves well to the sharing of such visual content.
You Can Generate a Ton of Leads
This is really the bottom line. Brand awareness and engagement are great, but I’ll take one great lead over 100 likes any day of the week (although more likes usually means more customers). Facebook and Instagram real estate ads make it possible to drive users to a page of your choosing where they can learn more about you, and take a high-value action (i.e. provide their email or schedule a meeting).
How to Set Up Your First Facebook or Instagram Ad Campaign
There are nuances when it comes to Facebook ads vs. Instagram ads, but a lot of the broad strokes when it comes to Facebook and Instagram real estate ad campaigns are similar. Allow me to show you how use my GPC Framework (Goals, Platform, Content) to set up your real estate social media ad strategy, with details on how to get the most bang for your buck.
Step 1: Set Some Goals
Setting goals creates accountability. And accountability creates efficiency. So when you create your Instagram or Facebook ad, know what you want to achieve from the get go, and have everything else flow from that. For instance, if you’re trying to encourage people to watch a walkthrough of a listing on Instagram, consider sharing an IGTV video of a home tour, and then tracking how much of the video people watch, and how many click through to schedule an in-person showing. Does it meet the goals you set out for? Great, do more of that! If not, do something different!
Step 2: Select the Platform & Target the Right Audience
As previously mentioned, Facebook and Instagram have very sophisticated adtech platforms that allow you to pinpoint the people you want to serve your ad to. Who to target depends on a variety of factors, including:
- Who you work well with
- Your areas of specialization
- Your understanding of the market
- What you’re trying to promote (i.e. your brand, a lead magnet, an event, a customer testimonial, company milestone, or a new listing)
If you’re promoting a new listing, you’ll also need to consider:
- The type of property
- The price of the property
- The location of the property
From there, it’s a matter of targeting the right locations. And here it’s important to think about where your target audience usually moves to and from—and most of the time it’s local. I mean, sure, you’ll get the odd client moving cross country, but more often it’s a young family headed from the city to the suburbs, or a couple of empty-nesters looking to settle down on the coast.
Using either Facebook or Instagram, you can set up geo-targeting by 15-mile radius. You can also exclude certain segments of the population, such as people who travel to that location regularly, or people who already live in that location.
Step 3: Create Some Titillating Content
On Instagram this is your caption below the image. On Facebook it’s the words that appear at the top of the post. On both, it needs to grab the user’s attention and not let go.
Crafting such copy requires a deep understanding of who you’re targeting with your ad. Who are they? Why are they in the market? What are their hopes, fears, and dreams? If you’re trying to market your services as an agent, what can you say that will trust people to choose to make one of the most important financial decisions of their life with you?
Promoting a listing is a bit different. You need to tell the story of your listing while providing the facts: Price, location, beds, baths, etc. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still have a little fun with it. Consider this Facebook ad I recently put out:
The language has something of a flourish, wouldn’t you say? There’s no reason you can’t find that flourish in your own copy. And if not, at the bare minimum, try not to sound like a robot. You’re a person, and your clients are people. Let that show in your writing.
With any copy, brevity is also important. Sprout Social says the ideal length for a Facebook ad is 90 characters, while Instagram is 138-150 characters.
Step 4: Offer Up Some Captivating Imagery
The sexiest copy in the world ain’t gonna matter if it’s not accompanied by even sexier imagery. Like we said, Facebook and Instagram are visual mediums. You have a very short amount of time to get someone’s attention, so you need something that’s going to make them stop scrolling and take a second look.
If you look at the imagery on the SERHANT. Instagram page, you’ll notice a very specific style. It’s a little quirky, a little aspirational—but extremely eye-catching. It promotes a lifestyle. The shots are bright. The colors pop. And everyone looks good (shoutout to my great team of visual artists).
Most importantly, it’s different from all of the run-of-the-mill real estate ads out there.
And that’s what you should be shooting for. Something that stands out. Something unique to your brand. And you don’t need a team of visual artists to get it. We all have a high-powered image-capturing device right in our pockets.
And both platforms give you a lot of options when it comes to sharing imagery. Instagram in particular has the great picture carousel function, which allows you to swipe left and right to view multiple images of the property. This is something I use in all my listing posts.
Step 5: Implement Video
Nothing breathes life into your Facebook and Instagram real estate ads quite like video. An Aussie real estate group found that listings with video received 403% more inquiries than those without.
So it’s not a question of if you should include video content in your ads, but how. Your goal with any video content is to give a realistic—yet flattering—view of the property. You should be the one giving the tour of the property. This puts a face to the listing, and can also help you build your brand and show off your expertise.
Both Instagram and Facebook give you a ton of different options when it comes to using video in your real estate ads, including regular videos, live videos, and longform videos. Figure out what makes sense for you by testing different formats (more on this later).
Step 6: Finish With a Call-To Action
A call-to action, or “CTA” for the unindoctrinated, is the punchline of your ad. It tells the user what you want them to do after viewing the ad. Depending on the nature of your ad, you may want the user to provide you with their name and email, download a piece of content, schedule an appointment, or view your listings.
The CTA should be clear, concise, and to the point. Lead with a strong verb like “Act,” “Schedule,” “Subscribe,” or “Sign Up.” Also try and evoke emotion. “Buy your dream home today!” is much more emotionally resonant than saying “Want to buy a house?.”
Finally, be sure the CTA redirects the user to where you promised it would take them. If you are promoting a listing, but take users to a page encouraging them to schedule an appointment, they’ll probably get turned off and leave.
This page is known as your landing page. For your ad to be successful, it’s essential this page is optimized for conversions. This means the copy is strong, it’s well-designed, it explains the value you’re going to provide, and it’s mobile responsive.
A Few Other Tidbits
There you have it folks. Everything you need to know to create killer Instagram and Facebook real estate ads. Well…not everything. There are a few tips I thought I’d save for the end, because I wanted them to be in the back of your mind when you go about creating your first ad.
They are as follows:
Keep an Eye on the Competition
You’re going to be competing with a lot of other realtors for eyeballs—so it pays to pay attention to what they’re doing with their ads. Not so you can copy what they’re doing. On the contrary, competitor ads teach you how you can differentiate yourself, so that your ad doesn’t disappear into the fray.
When you view a competitor ad, pay close attention to the copy and imagery they use, what their CTA is, and how people are engaging with the ad. Ask yourself what works about the ad, and what doesn’t work. I do this routinely, and it always provides me with a healthy dose of inspiration.
A/B Testing Should Be Your New Best Friend
Marketing is all about experimentation. Run ads, see how they convert, and then optimize to make them better.
And the easiest way to do this is with an A/B test. An A/B test is an experiment where you run two or more versions of an ad to determine which version performs better for a particular goal.
For example, if you were trying to fine-tune a CTA, you’d run two versions of the same ad—with the only difference being the CTA copy. You’d then use your Facebook Ads Manager account to track which ad performed better based on your target goal (impressions, click-through rate, email subscribes).
A/B tests can help you run your ad campaign more efficiently by ensuring you’re putting out ads that consumers are proven to respond to.
You know the peak season in your market, and you should plan your ad campaigns accordingly. That way, you maximize your visibility when buyers and sellers are on the hunt for a good realtor.
Both Instagram and Facebook provide you the functionality to do so. And if you bid on ads before peak season begins, you might even get a little discount. Hence, the importance of planning ahead!
Facebook & Instagram Ads for Real Estate
Okay, that was a lot of information. Digital marketing for real estate is something I could talk about all day long.
In fact…I did talk about it all day long in my latest online course: The Sell It Like Serhant Social Ads Course.
In this course, I show you exactly how I used Facebook and Instagram to nearly TRIPLE my lead flow within a month as well as the ad strategies I use to find buyers for my listings from a global buyer pool.
And the reason I’m telling you this now is because…the early registration list is now open! Be the first to sign up and get exclusive access to the key frameworks, strategies, and tactics for I use to build my brand, broaden my lead pipeline, and market my listings.